PureInsight | August 18, 2003
[PureInsight.org] In the Kai Yuan Period of the Tang Dynasty, under the rule of Emperor Xuan Zong, there was a Buddhist monk named Yi Fu who was renowned as a diligent Buddhist cultivator [Note: Yi Fu was a disciple of Shen Xiu's Northern School of Zen Buddhism]. Due to an illuminating radiance and virtuous character, people from both the upper and lower strata of society were drawn to study the teachings of Zen Buddhism with him. Once, while accompanying Emperor Xuan Zong on a trip to the Eastern Capital of Luo Yang, Yi Fu was offered monetary donations by dozens of people. Living up to his admired and legendary character, Yi Fu declined them all.
One morning without warning, Yi Fu called his disciples forward and declared that he would soon pass away. Yi Fu's regular visitors came that day as usual, which included four high ranking officials: Zhang Jun, Vice Minister of the Military Ministry; Yan Tingzhi, the second-highest ranking member of the Legislative Cabinet; Fang Guan, Vice Minister of the Finance Ministry; and Wei Shi, Vice Minister of the Rites and Education Ministry.1
Yi Fu approached the podium that morning and began to give a lecture on Zen Buddhist teachings as usual. In his lecture he declared to all, "I will die today, so I must bid you all farewell now." Upon hearing Yi Fu's words, Zhang Jun, the Vice Minister of the Military Ministry, said to Fang Guan, the Vice Ministry of the Rites and Education, "I have been cultivating the Taoist elixir for years, so I cannot attend any funerals." [Some of the less significant Taoist schools believe that attending funerals attracts demonic spirits and brings bad luck.] With these words, Zhang Jun quickly departed.
Immediately after Zhang Jun left, Yi Fu changed the subject and said to Fang Guan, "I have been a friend of Mr. Zhang for many years. Unfortunately, Mr. Zhang will suffer from an unusual disaster in the future where his reputation and dignity will be ruined. If Mr. Zhang had stayed here until the end of my lecture, he would have been spared from that disaster. What a pity!" Yi Fu held Fang Guan's hands and said, "You will become famous for restoring the Tang Dynasty. Take good care!" After saying these words, Yi Fu passed away.
Some time later, during a rebellion against the Tang Dynasty led by An Lushan, Zhang Jun was captured. After the overthrow of the Tang Dynasty was complete, Zhang Jun was given a high-level position in the new government. By choosing to comply with the rebels and accepting the role, Zhang Jun's reputation and dignity were indeed damaged, just as Yi Fu had predicted. As for Fang Guan, he played a major role in the uprising against An Lushan's new government. As a result, his dignity and reputation were safeguarded. After the Tang Dynasty was restored to power, Fang Guan served two of the Tang emperors before passing away.
1Note: In the Tang Dynasty, three cabinets, or departments, reported directly to the emperor: the Legislative Cabinet, Judiciary Cabinet, and the Administrative Cabinet. The Legislative Cabinet was comprised of Zhong Shu Ling, Zhong Shu Shi Lang, and Zhong Shu She Ren, in this order of rank. There were six ministries under the Administrative Cabinets, including the Civil Personnel, Rites and Education, Military, Public Works, Finance, and Justice Ministry. Each Ministry was led by a Minister (Shang Shu in Chinese) and Vice Minister (Shi Lang in Chinese).
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/7/25/22628.html